The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Thursday infielder Jake Lamb has been called up to the major league club, while infielder Andy Marte has been sent back to Triple-A Reno.
The call-up came as a surprise to most, as the D-backs could have waited until September — when major league teams are granted 15 additional roster spots — to select Lamb’s contract. But manager Kirk Gibson explained before Thursday’s contest with the Kansas City Royals that the D-backs wanted an extended look at Lamb, who seems a top candidate to fill the team’s vacancy at third base going forward.
“We were kind of looking toward the future a little more,” he told reporters Thursday.
Lamb hit .327 with 15 home runs and 84 RBI in 108 games this season, splitting time between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno. The 23-year-old was ranked as the D-backs’ ninth best prospect coming into the season by MLB.com, and 10th best in the D-backs’ system by Baseball America.
“He’s got a great bat and we’re in need of offense and he’s come a long way with his defensive capability as well,” Gibson explained.
“We’re just working toward trying to determine, I guess, where he’s at in his career and I think there’s a curiosity of whether he’s a fit for next year, as well.”
A D-backs sixth-round selection in the 2012 first-year player draft, Lamb was also named to the Southern League All-Star team this season and ranked third in the minor leagues in extra-base hits (59).
The University of Washington product has hit .321 with 37 home runs and 193 RBI in three minor league seasons.
On Thursday, he spoke with reporters about his success this season and his approach now that he’s reached the major leagues.
“I’ve just tried to stay consistent,” he explained. “That was my main goal offensively and defensively.”
Lamb went on to point to his time in the Arizona Fall League last year as a key factor in his accelerated development.
Though surprised by the timing of his call-up to the majors, he said he was prepared for his debut, anticipating nerves and a faster pace, but understanding that the game itself was no different.
“He’s going to be our third baseman,” Gibson said. “That’s not to say he’s going to play everyday; I don’t want to overwhelm the kid.”
Marte, who was brought up from Reno to replace Martin Prado, was hitting .188 with one home run and three RBI through six games with the D-backs.